As more time passes, I fall more in love with my Chief and appreciate more fully those characteristics which not only make him a wonderful husband but an incredible father. It is a loss to the family that he is prevented from being more available because his profession keeps him away. He always says that if he won the lottery, he wouldn't retire from working but would simply work full time for family and Church. He would finish writing and publishing the books he has drafted. He would pursue pro-life work more actively with his kids. He would teach them during the day and have longer conversations that must be abbreviated now... about everything from philosophy to automobiles to love.
Our homeschool is going just fine but ideally, I would have less of me... or at least enough of me balanced by the Chief's masculine energy, love, and intellect. My ideal school environment would never be in an institutional setting but instead this healthy balance of loving, engaging, faith-centered family.
My husband has sacrificed quite a bit of money over the years so that he could be with his family. It always surprised other guys at the station when he would turn down overtime. Who turns down overtime? He was one of the only men who didn't choose to maintain a second job. Instead, he would drive us to daily Mass and spend time studying at home for the day when he would get an opportunity to test for promotion. When many firemen would happily work on Sundays, my guy managed to work very few during the year, preferring instead to use his vacation days or switch time in order to spend the Lord's Day with us, believing that this example was extremely important to the kids' faith development. I believe God blessed his faithfulness and allowed him to be able to be present for all major holy days during his years on shift, even when he was low on the seniority totem. In 13 years, I don't believe he ever worked a Christmas or Easter... and that took some creativity, persistence, and certainly some divine intervention.
That's not to say he hasn't worked hard. In fact, it was his constant effort and planning that placed him in a position to be fire chief only 10 years after he first walked onto the job. He worked his tail off. He achieved every certification he had the opportunity for and earned a second master's degree. But he somehow managed to still give priority to his family.
These days, after putting in a full day at work, he comes home to begin his "second shift" with us. He coaches and drives and shops and accompanies us to Mass and to activities. It is rare that he even has an hour to sit after work before his time is claimed by our needs. He will walk with me in the neighborhood at 11:00 at night after the kids' needs are met and take midnight trips to Walmart if I need them. And the kids and I giggle when he falls asleep sitting up in his chair.
Work is hard and he does his faithfully. I don't doubt for a minute that he would love the luxury of putting in his notice at the day job once and for all. He would probably dance out the door. But his life speaks to more than a want of luxury. He has passed up the money because it would have meant sacrificing family. But if it didn't mean giving up family time he'd never complain about more money. Ah, the elusive lottery win! I never imagined that I would pray for such a thing... but I confess freely that I have.
As our children grow and expenses increase; as our grocery bills seemed to double overnight, the house needs more repairs, hospital bills loom, and the older children begin to dream bigger dreams with larger price tags... the Chief begins to think of second jobs and dream of a paycheck that grows instead of shrinks with the economy. Not for the luxuries that feed his pleasures, but for the freedom to serve his family more fully and freely.
My children are good people because of their dad. I don't want money so that they can have stuff. But I would happily embrace a bit more so that they can have more of who he is.
So go ahead, Chief... throw a couple bucks into the wind now and then. If God wants to bless us with a win, at least He'll have a ticket to work with.
The Chief recently took a vacation day to take us on a day trip to Columbus. Professor was invited to the Ohio Right to Life offices to receive his video contest prize and we made the 2-hour trip all together. It was an excellent day. The children were angelic. I don't think anyone cried or whined once. In fact, I don't think anyone even asked to go to the bathroom without a nudging from me. Our guardian angels must have been all over that... and Daddy was there with us....